Youth Essay Contest Winner
Campbelle Redding, Reno, Nevada, 11th Grade
I started fishing when I was 4-years-old. My dad took me on my first quest to Cascade Lake in Yellowstone National Park. Traipsing across the stiff banks in my little purple waders, waiting for the freezing winds and torrential downpour to end, I enjoyed a single catch — the pink plastic goldfish that came already attached to my rod. It was too windy to set the hook on anything else, but the pink fish I caught really was “thiiiiiiis big”.
It wasn’t the number of fish I had sought, but the experience of visiting a new place and seeing all it had to offer. Of course,being 4, my attention span was generally as tenacious as an 8X tippet. I was captivated by the cliffy banks that hid beautiful cutthroat trout. I couldn’t believe how vivid the water was and how gently opal-colored swans drifted across in little lines. My experiences with public lands began with my fishing in Yellowstone, and the allure of the landscape kept me wishing for Yellowstone vacations every year. Yellowstone’s public lands introduced me to a lifetime of freedom from the stresses of life. As only one of Yellowstone’s 3 million yearly visitors, I found a shared haven in the park. The beauty in public lands lies in the mutual love of millions of people for the exceptional landscape around them. My own day of fishing I npublic land had me hooked on Yellowstone’s beauty for life.
I was lucky enough to be born to a family of natural explorers. My parents and I have visited Yellowstone National Park at least three times a year for the past 12 years. At each visit, we are able to experience a new natural wonder. The stunning Osprey Falls, steaming Norris Geyser Basin, and Firehole River amaze me each time I see them. Visiting Yellowstone continually revitalizes my mind and body. It is hard to believe these lands have been conserved by previous generations for individuals like me to experience. Public lands allow for the steady equilibrium of humans and nature. No computer screen can ever bring the same tranquility as stepping into a natural escape. Catching my first trout in public waters instilled thevalue of ensuring this magical place would be preserved.
Along with my first fishing trip, I completed my first junior ranger program in Yellowstone. Receiving the shiny ranger badge symbolized the roots of a lifelong love forlearning about the park and its wonders. The junior ranger booklet explained complex topics including the effort to repopulate natural fish in Yellowstone waters. My interest was piqued as to what I could do to help the park rangers and naturalists focus on their environmental efforts. I wanted to do my part for a park that has given so much. Informing the public allows those who already love public lands to take part in conservation efforts. Whether it be as simple as clearing trash on a hiking outing or as vast as starting a volunteer organization, each nature fiend can contribute to the public lands they are so passionate about.
Public lands were created to be shared among the people and allow all to discover theirown adventure. Through conservation efforts by organizations including Trout Unlimited,America’s public lands are saved for all generations past and present. Each segment of landcarries countless stories, memories, and future experiences. Conservation is vital to protecting the mystique of public lands for all. Whether your refuge is found in a fresh morning hike, warmcamping trip, or crisp fishing outing, public lands have something intriguing for everyone. I will forever seek refuge in Yellowstone National Park. And I owe it all to a great day of fishing.